Waynedale United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Feb 21, 2016 Sermon

“I AM the Bread of Life”
John 6:27 – 59
Ted Jansen February 21, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        Twelve baskets were collected from all the men, women and children who were there that day when Jesus fed them.  A young boy gave Jesus five loaves of bread and two fish and a miracle occurred.  All the people were full and fed after Jesus thanked the Lord. 
            They were full, satisfied and content so the disciples collected the remaining bread for another day, another meal.  
            The next day, the people that were fed, sought out Jesus and found Him in Capernaum.  The people were not full, they were not satisfied, and they wanted more bread.  They were hungry and Jesus used this occasion to teach them. 
 
2.)        Jesus used their experience of eating bread to connect with His life.  Jesus wanted them to believe in Him, as the Son of God, as the one who came down from heaven.  God was doing something brand new in the world and Jesus was going to describe Himself in a few words that begin with I AM.    
            Jesus told the people, “I am the Bread of Life.  He who comes to me will never be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”  (John 6:35) 
            Jesus, as the I AM, connects to their need for food.  Jesus was like the manna that came down for the ancient Israelites.  Manna was bread from heaven.   Jesus was bread from heaven. 
            Just as the people had eaten bread, and just as the Israelites had eaten manna, Jesus is telling the people that they must eat his body and drink his flesh.  (John 6:53)
            These are hard words to understand when we first read them.  We believe that we must take Jesus, as the Bread of Life, into our hearts by our belief in Him, like we would take bread into our stomachs.  We believe in Jesus as our bread of life in our soul, our spirit.      
 
3.)        Each person has been created with hunger and drives in our bodies, mind, spirit and soul.  The most basic drive is that of a hunger for food.  It is a basic physical need. 
We also have a drive, a hunger, for significance, for pleasure, for purpose, for material good, for happiness, for God, for truth, for relationship.  
            In our consumer culture companies with excellent sales people will build on this hunger and drive and seek to create dissatisfaction within us.  That is the purpose of their strategies.  If we have a sense of dissatisfaction then our drive will move us look at and purchase a product that will satisfy us.  It will attempt to meet our need, or make us happy for the moment.
If a sales person can convince you that you really “need” this product then they can make you spend your money. This is what motivates the commercials on TVs and the internet.  We see this in technology and other items.  There appears to be an urgent drive for us to have the latest and best new model of cars, phones, computers, TV’s, etc.  This is driven by the sales force and the companies wanting to make money.    
            When we buy something we have a sense of urgency and dissatisfaction inside.  What this process can create in us is a sense that we need “more” and a sense that we are not satisfied.
 
4.)        The people looking for Jesus after He fed them were not satisfied.  They wanted more. 
            The book, The God We Can Know, talks about the difference between “consumers” and “enjoyers.”   Consumers are always needing or wanting more.  Enjoyers are content and thankful for what they have. 
            Here is a quote from page 29.  “A drive for fullness makes it hard to enjoy what we have.  That is the insidious nature of hunger.  It makes us consumers more than enjoyers!  Yet, the moment we buy, we experience a letdown because it’s the need for more that propels us.”    
            As we think about this inner drive and the crowds in Jesus day that could not enjoy the experience they had let us think about our own life and its “hungers” and “drives.”
 
5.)        In our spiritual life do we desire “more and more” or do we “enjoy” our life with God?  Is there a sense of contentment and peace in our relationship with Jesus Christ?  Or does our desire and hunger get in the way of our spiritual enjoyment of faith?  Are we driven to get more spiritual life, to get more materially, to get more pleasure, to get more food?     
           
6.)        Jesus re-directed the people in the crowd and I invite you to be re-directed in your life by Jesus as you hear Him saying, “I Am the bread of life, no one will be hungry or thirsty when you come to me and believe in me. 
            One way we can express our belief is by choosing to redirect our hungers and drives by putting them second in our life.  When we choose to fast, to not feed the drive for food, we give God greater room and space to feed us spiritually.  It can be a powerful form of believing and growing our faith in Christ.     
 
7.)        Fasting is the practice of self-denial for the purpose of gaining greater spiritual life.  Fasting is allowing our “need for food” to be replaced by our need for God for a period of time.     
            When we fast we choose to place our spiritual life and its desires above our physical life and its desires.  
Here are some thoughts on fasting for those who have never fasted before.  Start by choosing one meal to refrain from and use that time to read scripture, pray, or listen to Christian music.  Or, choose one type of food that you will not eat for a period of time.  Or, choose not to do a certain thing (like watching TV, not going out to eat, not being critical to another person.   
            Choose to quit eating “bread” so that the bread of life might feed us and nourish us.  As we think of fasting let us consider the bread, the “manna,” that the Israelites ate every day.     
 
8.)        The Israelites were fed by God every day.  They were looking for manna each day.  We remember that manna was provided for the people for six days.  Each day they were to collect just what they needed for that day only. 
On the sixth day they could collect twice what they needed and it would not spoil.  On the seventh day no manna came from heaven.  It was gone. The people, if they were obedient to God, had prepared for this day and ate while they rested.  This six and seventh day also taught them to trust in God.  They did not need to focus on their physical needs but to focus on God and His provisions for them in the wilderness.    
            The people in the wilderness were vulnerable and I believe a little nervous or anxious to see if the bread would come again.  The seventh day was a day of trusting in God while they did not do anything to prepare of collect bread. 
            When the first day of the week came, so did the manna, the bread was there for the people. 
 
9.)        “I AM the bread of life.”  Those words were for the people who had eaten bread and who were searching for more of it from Jesus.  We understand Jesus’ words when He called Himself the living bread that came down from heaven.  (John 6:51) Jesus was like manna, that is to be used every day, it is to be eaten every day.    
 
10.)      When Jesus taught the disciples about prayer He used these words as a part of the prayer; “give us each day our daily bread…” 
We are to ask God for bread, the bread we need for one day.  We are not to ask for bread that will last for a week, or a month.  We are to be dependent on the Lord for our daily bread. 
            We come to Him each day asking for His bread.  We need to be content with what is provided and let fasting teach us about the Lord and deepen our faith.    
 
11.)      In Israel we had bread at each meal.   The bread we had was not like the bread you buy in our grocery store.  The bread in Israel was a roll or a type of pita bread.  It always tasted fresh and delicious.  My guess is that when they make the bread it they don’t put preservatives in it.  If this is true then the bread will only last a few days.  It is to be eaten every day. 
            The idea of preserving bread to make it last longer using chemicals is a newer idea.  It came about with the commercialization of bread and sales in stores.  The first preservatives were being added in the 1950’s with the idea that if you keep bread longer on the shelf people will buy it.
            We lose a little bit of the understanding of bread in Jesus’ day because of the way we make bread today.  You can bake bread and have it last for a week or more.         
 
12.)      Perhaps we see the significance of bread in a meal where Jesus taught us about His own body and blood.  That was a meal that Jesus spoke at with bread and a cup of wine. 
Jesus was at the Passover meal using bread and wine and today we celebrate in worship the meal with bread and juice in Holy Communion.  We, as disciples are to remember Him whenever we break the bread and drink the juice. 
Holy Communion is about the Bread of Life, and letting the life of Jesus Christ, the bread from heaven, to come into our hearts.   
 
13.)      There is a song, “It is Well,” that reminds us to be content and have peace in our soul.  It was written by a man who suffered tragedy in his family and personal life.  His words will touch you as you listen to Audrey Assad sing it.  The music and words are for you to follow along or to sing quietly with.  I pray that you will allow the words and music to find you and let the presence of Christ satisfy you.  We can be satisfied and not desiring “more” when we stop pursuing and stop driving our hearts and spirits because we are dissatisfied.
 
14.)      I invite you to let peace and contentment come to you as you listen to Psalm 46:10.  Breathe and hear each section of the verse and let it speak to you.    
 
“Be Still and Know that I am God.”
“Be Still and Know that I am.”         
“Be Still and Know that I.”   
“Be Still and Know that.”     
“Be Still and Know.” 
“Be Still and.”
“Be Still.”
“Be.”